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A Lesson in Being Thankful

Horalia and Guerrero Martinez

A stunning portrait of a young Spanish beauty and her smiling, handsome, young man (see photo) hangs in prominence on the living room wall in the home of Guerrero and Horalia Martinez, residents of Antonito, CO. Guerrero was born in Villa Coronado in La Conquista, Mexico; Miss Horalia was born in a small, north-central community in Mexico known as Las Nieves, Durango, to the Armando Martinez family. Miss Horalia was the second-born of five children, including Alfonso, Martin, Ramon, and Manuela.

Miss Horalia was raised in a devout Catholic family, widely known and respected for their values, morals and work ethic and, according to Guerrero, was one of the reasons he proposed marriage to her, “…because I knew she was from a good family.” They were honest people and hard workers.” Miss Horalia said she and her husband, Guerrero, met at a dance, “…when we were very young, in Mexico, and I was 16 and he was 23.” When asked what attracted them to each other their immediate smiles and playful humor gave credence to the strength, warmth and friendship in their marriage-bond. Mr. Martinez maintained, “Oh, she was soooo pretty!” Miss Horalia giggled as she looked up at him and said, “He was the only one that was there!” Four years later, June 10, 1958, Miss Horalia, and her Guerrero, married in Sacramento Chihuahua, Mexico. Mr. Martinez worked in agriculture throughout their marriage while Miss Horalia busied herself with the business of raising their three children (one son and two daughters) and taking care of their family.

Years passed; family decisions were made; hopes and dreams became reality. Throughout the years, Miss Horalia’s adult siblings immigrated to the United States; when her children matured, they joined their mother’s family, stateside. And, about eight years ago, Miss Horalia and Guerrero immigrated to the United States when their son, Salome, who lives in Dallas, TX, became their sponsor. It was an exciting time! They were able to reconnect with family and traveled first to Antonito, CO, to visit Miss Horalia’s brother, Alfonso, with whom she is very close. Alfonso had lived in Antonito and worked on area ranches for the past 35-years; another brother, Martin, and one Martinez daughter, Maria, also resided there. Then, they traveled to Atlanta, GA, to visit her brother, Ramon, but reminisced about the small town environment of Antonito. Eight months later, they returned to Conejos County, established residence, and established care, with Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc. (VWHS) at Guadalupe Health Center (GHC) in Antonito; they have since applied for citizenship.

The primary language of Miss Horalia, and her Guerrero, is Spanish. She is a precious, beautiful, diminutive, soft-spoken, true Spanish Lady with long, dark hair worn in a classic up-do. Her beautiful eyes take-in everything around her, and speak volumes. Miss Horalia’s Guerrero is tall and handsome with commanding presence; she is the twinkle in his eyes.

Life in the United States has been an unquestionable blessing for the Martinez family, but as time passed and health concerns prevailed, life became difficult due to minority status, inability to speak English, and overwhelming cultural differences. They were strangers in a strange land, but they had faith in God, a strong will to survive and belief in the power of prayer.

During one such difficult time, Miss Horalia met with her VWHS GHC care coordinator and asked, “…is it possible to get steps that go into my house?” Yes, it was possible, and the process began. Many people became involved in the project, including Integrated Community Health Partners who funded the building materials; Nora Leist, VWHS Director Clinical Support Services, who provided translation services; Construction Trades Instructor, Mark Jones, and his student, Gerald Nichols, who built and installed the ramp (see before and after pictures) at the Martinez home. Miss Horalia’s prayer was answered! It was a lengthy process which did not happen overnight, but was worth the wait!

This home modification is but one demonstration of things VWHS does to let their patients know they are cared about and valued. Dr. Philip Mendoza, VWHS Chief Medical Officer, stated, “…please let the community know we do things like this – this is what we do because we care about our patients.”

VWHS works hand-in-hand with multiple community agencies to provide the best possible care because VWHS truly cares about the quality of life and well-being of their patients. VWHS case management and care coordination services include, but are not limited to, helping patients connect with transportation, assistance obtaining glasses, hearing aids, dental needs, food, clothing, housing, firewood, diesel, behavioral health services, specialty medical referrals, home modifications, home weatherization, and the list goes on.

VWHS, whose motto is “Affordable, Quality Health Care – Close To Home” established in the San Luis Valley, Arkansas Valley, Canon City Region, and Southwest Region in 1976 and since that time has cared for thousands of individuals, families and migrant workers in fourteen medical clinics, six dental clinics, three physical therapy clinics and multiple, additional programs. Along with medical and other clinic personnel, each VWHS clinic is staffed with case managers and care coordinators, and some financial eligibility staff, to help meet patients’ needs and get the best possible care. VWHS patients also have access to translation services as well as referral services which help link patients to community resources. As stated in the VWHS website, “Whether services are needed for acute or short-term care, chronic or ongoing care, preventive care, or end of life care, VWHS is the go-to-healthcare-provider for all ages, incomes, and populations.”

No matter their place of origin, no matter what they say, people are the same: they love, they want to be loved, they want their life to amount to something, and sometimes they need help. One defining difference among people is the ability to recognize and acknowledge blessings for which we should be thankful; it is a gift, and renders thankful hearts. Miss Horalia, and her Guerrero, hold each other close with thankful hearts and state thankfulness for their blessings which include, “…we are grateful and thankful to God; we are thankful for the healthcare we have received since being here, and for our family and friends. We are thankful for our home, for the Mondragons, for our community, and for our Priest who visits with us in our home. We are very grateful to VWHS and so thankful for what you have done for us. Thank you so much!”

It is the hope of VWHS to improve the quality of life for our patients, like the Martinez family, by demonstration of love, hope and optimism in their comprehensive medical care. “Thank You,” to the Martinez family for allowing VWHS to share their story! We are thankful Miss Horalia, and her Guerrero, are part of the VWHS family!